Friday, 11 July 2014

Mairead Farrell RYC and the Nazis

The North Belfast News (12 July) carries a photograph of a large poster on a fence on the Crumlin Road, opposite Holy Cross Roman Catholic Church.  

According to the report it was erected by the Mairead Farrell Republican Youth Committee, which is described as the 'activist youth wing of Sinn Fein'.  For further information on their activities you might look at their Facebook page.

The poster appeared on Tuesday morning and bears the message "ANTI-FASCIST, ANTI-SECTARIAN, ANTI-HATE MFRYC".

According to the chairman of the group, Eoin McShane, the poster is part of an ongoing campaign 'to take a stand against hate'.

Well before Eoin and his friends got to work with their spray paint, they should have taken a history lesson, because when fascism was really rampant in Europe, their political party and their friends in the IRA were colluding with the Nazis.  When Ulstermen and Irishmen, Protestant and Roman Catholic, were fighting fascism on the battlefields of Europe, the IRA was collaborating with one of the most evil regimes ever to appear on the face of the earth.

They may paint on the poster that they are "anti-Fascist" but their republican forebears were happy to cosy up to Adolf Hitler and his henchmen.

As regards portraying the republican movement as "anti-sectarian", the IRA did murder Protestants and Roman Catholics but I dont think that makes you "anti-sectarian". Moreover one of the most notable aspects of their murder campaign was that of the ethnic cleansing of Protestants in many border areas.  Anti-sectarian ..... not really!


Respect for the Orange Order

At the Sinn Fein Ard Fheis in Wexford in February Gerry Adams said, 'Treat Orangemen with respect.'

Then last week in the Northern Ireland Assembly Sinn Fein members supported a motion calling for 'tolerance and respect' in relation to parades and protests.

But actions speak louder than words and once again republicans have failed to deliver.

It would only take six minutes of tolerance and respect from republicans for them to withdraw their opposition to a return parade by the three Orange lodges and the band on the Crumlin Road.  Sadly it seems this is beyond them and it seems their words are hollow.

During the debate I asked if it was too much to ask for a few minutes of respect and tolerance.  It seems that it is.




Saturday, 5 July 2014

The Irish language, Sinn Fein and the IRA

Bobby Sands, IRA terrorist and hunger striker
Some rather na├»ve people try to promote the Irish language within the unionist community in Northern Ireland and present it as part of a 'shared heritage'.  We should embrace our 'Gaelic heritage' they tell us.
 
Now much of their propaganda is deeply flawed, a point that I have made on many occasions.  Most recently I highlighted the ridiculous attempt by a contributor to Wikipedia to tell us that the village of Mossley in Newtownabbey was named from some obscure Irish word.  It was in fact named after the town of Mossley in England.  Other examples of such spurious nonsense appear on a regular basis and I will give another example in a forthcoming post.
 
However the reality of the Irish language movement in Northern Ireland is well illustrated recently when St Colm's High School in Twinbrook was the scene for the launch of new Gaeltacht bursaries provided by Sinn Fein and the Bobby Sands Gaeltacht Scholarship to two children.
 
The Gaeltacht bursaries are named after an IRA terrorist and hunger-striker and the report in An Phoblacht (2 July) was entitled Bobby Sands Gaeltacht Scholarships awarded.
 
Martin McGuinness made the Bobby Sands bursary awards
 in St Colm's High School in Twinbrook
Two children received bursaries and other children received certificates for their progress in Irish.  Indeed the report included a photograph of Martin McGuinness signing a Bobby Sands Scholarship certificate, which has a photograph of the IRA terrorist in the top left corner.  This is what was presented to the children and it was an endorsement of IRA commander Bobby Sands.
 
 
Of course all of this happened in the presence of and with the approval and participation of the St Colm's High School principal Cathy McMurray, who said that Irish culture was a central and important part of the school's curriculum.  I wonder if Bobby Sands is a part of that culture.
 
Cathy McMurray with Martin McGuinness & Jennifer McCann
So far neither the school, the Roman Catholic bishop nor the Council for Catholic Maintained Schools have commented on the event and it hasn't reached the BBC or UTV.  But maybe some journalist will start asking questions and keep on asking them until he or she gets an answer.

And maybe William Crawley will take it up on Sunday Sequence or maybe Stephen Nolan will take it up on Radio Ulster on Monday ... or then again maybe not.

St Colm's High School is a co-educational school that serves the parishes of St Luke's, The Nativity, Christ the Redeemer, St Anne's, Our Lady Queen of Peace Kilwee and Derriaghy
 
 

A Blue Plaque for a member of the Old IRA

Today the Irish News devoted an entire page to a new blue plaque which has been erected by the Ulster History Circle.  It also got a mention today in Eddie McIlwaine's page in the Belfast Telegraph.
 
The plaque was unveiled in Newry to recognise Peadar Barry (1895-1966) who was secretary of the County Down Board of the GAA for 31 years from the formation of the board in 1926 until 1957 and thereafter he was lifetime president.

The Irish News also tells us that Peadar Barry was a political ally of Eamon de Valera and a Nationalist politician and that he produced and acted in local plays and campaigned for the Ulster Farmers Union.
 
All this is true but it is interesting that the reports on the Ulster History Circle website and in the Irish News and the Belfast Telegraph omit any reference to another important part of the life of Peadar Barry, his role in the Old IRA.
 
Peadar Barry
Peadar Barry was born in 1891 and was the son of Peter Barry from Corrags and Annie O'Hare of Derrylecka.  As a boy he learned the stories of the United Irishmen and the Land League around the fireside in the family home.  He went on to play an active role in the War of Independence as a member of the Fourth Northern Division, Pre-Truce IRA, under the command of the notorious Frank Aiken.  It was Aiken who organised the murder of nine innocent Protestants at Altnaveigh in June 1922.
 
Later, as president of the Down GAA, Peadar Barry welcomed Frank Aiken, his former IRA commander-in-chief and then the Eire Minister for Foreign Affairs, to the official opening of Pairc an Iuir (now Pairc Esler) in Newry.
 
When Peadar Barry died in 1966, the fiftieth anniversary of the 1916 rebellion, his coffin was covered with an Irish tricolour and escorted by an Old IRA guard-of-honour.  There was an oration at the graveside and a bugler sounded the Last Post and Reveille.  This was an Old IRA funeral.

Why did the Ulster History Circle and the newspapers omit any reference to Peadar Barry's role in the Old IRA?  That is a question that only they can answer but it is a question worth asking.

However this led me on to thinking again about something that has been pointed out before, the need for balance in the selection of plaques by the Ulster History Circle, so I took another look at the Ulster History Circle website, which lists all the blue plaques that have been erected.

This is the second plaque erected to commemorate a member of the GAA.  The other was for John McKay, a founding member of the GAA in 1884.  However there are no plaques relating to an organisation which plays a similar social role in the Protestant and Unionist community and by that I mean the Orange Order.

There are five plaques to leading members of the United Irishmen - William Steel Dickson, Jemmy Hope, Thomas McCabe and William Putnam McCabe, Henry Joy McCracken and Thomas Russell - who are described on the plaques as United Irishmen.  There is also a plaque for William Drennan, another United Irishman, who is described as a Patriot and Radical.

The Society of United Irishmen and the Orange Order were both founded in the 1790s but while one ended in 1798 the other is still a significant organisation and down through the years has played an important role in Ulster society.  Why then is there is no mention of the Orange Order on any plaque?

There is a plaque in Newry to John Mitchel (1815-1875) and John Martin (1812-1875), who are described as Patriots and Writers and who were from the next generation of republicans.  As regards later republicans there is a plaque to Alice Milligan, a Gaelic revivalist and also a member of Sinn Fein.

The use of the word patriot in relation to Drennan, Mitchel and Martin is understandable but all three were republicans, although in the end William Drennan rejected republicanism and became a unionist. Is it impossible to be a patriotic unionist?  Is the word patriot reserved for Irish nationalists and republicans?

So where is the recognition of unionism in the plaques and why is there no mention of unionism?  Are there no significant unionists who deserve to be commemorated?  What about Sir James Craig, the leader of Ulster Unionism and one of the founding fathers of Northern Ireland?  What about Thomas Sinclair, the author of the Ulster Covenant and leader of the Liberal Unionists?  What about Fred Crawford, who organised the Larne gunrunning and whose life could be turned into a Hollywood epic? What about one of the former Grand Masters of the Orange Order?  What about one of the former prime ministers of Northern Ireland?  What about Thomas Sloan MP, leader of the Independent Orange Order?

A shared future must have a place for unionism and a place for Orangeism but in some circles there seems to be no place for them.  Unionism and Orangeism are very much under-represented in the work of the Ulster History Circle.

Yesterday a blue plaque was unveiled for a county secretary of the GAA and a former member of the Old IRA.  What then does the Ulster History circle intend to do to address the under-representation of leaders within unionism and Orangeism?  Will we ever see the words unionist or Orange appear on a 'blue plaque'?

The Ulster History Circle does a valuable work in highlighting significant figures in Ulster history and I regret having to raise this point but it is one that cannot be overlooked.

 
 


Friday, 4 July 2014

Two thoughts for Gerry Kelly

I listened this morning to Sinn Fein's Gerry Kelly complaining on Radio Ulster that the Civil Rights Camp at Twaddell Avenue was illegal because it was on land belonging to Housing Executive.
 
Let me make two points in response to Gerry Kelly:
 
1. His argument is utterly hypocritical when his own party has been involved in the illegal erection of memorials to IRA terrorists on land belonging not only to the Housing Executive but to other public bodies. 
 
For example, the IRA memorial that was erected in Castlederg in August 2013 was erected with Sinn Fein support and it was inaugurated with a parade on the so-called Tyrone IRA Volunteers Day.  Moreover the main speaker at the inauguration of the illegal memorial was none other than Gerry Kelly himself!
 
2. The land at Twaddell Avenue is indeed owned by the Housing Executive but why do they own it?  The fact is that the land was once occupied by family homes and those families were Protestant families.  It was intimidation by Irish republicans that forced Protestant families to leave.  Of course it was not enough to put Protestants out of their homes ...  Irish republicans want them off the streets as well.
 
The sheer hypocrisy of Irish republicanism is matched only by its sectarian hatred.

Saturday, 28 June 2014

The Glengormley housing scandal

The real story of social housing in the North Belfast constituency is gradually emerging and on Tuesday Paula Bradley MLA asked an important question during Oral Questions in the Assembly. 
 
She asked me about housing need in the Glengormley area of North Belfast.  Here is the answer I gave to her question:
In March 2014 there were 233 applications on the waiting list for  Glengormley of which 156 were deemed to be in housing stress.  In the 12 months to March 2014 there were 37 social housing allocations.
There have been no new social housing schemes built in the Glengormley area since 1999.
There is a combined projected social housing need of 116 units identified for Glengormley for the period 2013-2018.  This can be broken down as: Glenvarna 74 units, Queen's Park 30 units and Hightown 12 units.
Over the past fifteen years not one single social house has been completed in the Glengormley area, in spite of the fact that there is a significant housing need and in spite of the fact that there has been a significant housing need! 
 
However, on further investigation it now seems that the past record of the Housing Executive is even worse than that.   The housing that was completed in 1999 was for 20 units of supported housing accommodation for residents with mental health problems.  This was specialist accommodation and residents for such accommodation come from a wide area.  These units were not built to meet local need in areas such as Queen's Park and Glenvarna.

So we have to go back beyond 1999 and ask when the last general needs social housing was built in Glengormley. 

I got the answer to that question yesterday and the answer is 1972 to 1974, when Glenvarna was built. 

Since the completion of Glenvarna in 1974, not one general needs social house has been built at Glengormley!  That is forty years ago and so in spite of a significant general housing need at Glengormley the Housing Executive has not completed a single house in the past forty years! 

Of course it could be argued that there was no land available but in fact there has been land available.  Over the past four years many private housing schemes and commercial developments have taken place in Glengormley.  There was land available for them so clearly that excuse does not stand up to scrutiny.

Not one new family home in forty years.  Is it any wonder that a DUP representative described the system as 'broken'?

I welcome the fact that Clanmil are now building 21 units at 369-371 Antrim Road but this is designed as accommodation for residents over 55.  Even now, in spite of the identified need for 116 units, there are no new family homes being built in the Glengormley area!

This is a situation that requires immediate and resolute action by the Housing Executive and that is what the North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds has demanded.  It is time to address the failure of the past forty years and that must be done without delay.
 
 
 
 

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Mossley - is this an Irish name?


Mossley Mill
The village of Mossley, in Newtownabbey, is dominated by the old mill, which now accommodates the offices of Newtownabbey Borough Council.  I have a certain affection for the place because my grandfather worked in the mill, his family lived in Mossley, some of my aunts and uncles worked in the mill and my father was born and grew up in Mossley.
 
Recently I was looking at the Wikipedia page for Newtownabbey and came across the following statement about the origin of the name Mossley.
The following housing estates have Irish-derived names ... Mossley (likely from Maslai).
In fact the name probably arose from the town of Mossley in Lancashire and a family named Grimshaw.  Nicholas Grimshaw was born in Lancashire in 1734 and there he learned about the cotton industry.  He came across to Ulster and in 1776 he advertised in the Belfast Newsletter, promoting new techniques for linen, cotton and calico printing at Greencastle, three miles north of Belfast.  By 1800 he was one of the most important men in the cotton industry
 
On his death in 1805 his sons Thomas and Edmund carried on his well-established business at Whitehouse.  They also took over other mills in the area and Mossley was one of them.  Edmund continued the printing business until 1834 when it became more lucrative to convert to flax spinning.
 
As confirmation of the real origin of the name I refer to A Dictionary of Ulster Place-Names by Dr Patrick McKay:
The name Mossley has been imported from England where it is found as the name of a town south-east of Oldham in Lancashire.  The name means 'clearing by mossy land', from OE mos 'peat-bog' + OE leah 'clearing'. 
The earliest record of the name in reference to the village in Ulster is in 1839.
 
Two things strike me about this and one is of course the unreliability of Wikipedia.  It is useful but needs to be treated with caution.  The second thing is that there is a tendency on the part of some Irish cultural enthusiasts to claim everything as Irish and try to find an Irish origin or association for everything, even when it isn't there.  This is another example of that tendency.